(LifeSiteNews) — The Canadian military has rescinded restrictions on public prayer during Remembrance Day this year following backlash from Canadians.
On October 30, Chaplain General Brigadier-General Guy Belisle announced that chaplains will now be permitted to say public prayers at Remembrance Day celebrations this November 11, according to an email obtained by the Epoch Times.
“In light of the questions that have been raised concerning the Directive, any chaplain who participates in a Remembrance Day ceremony this year can propose a spiritual reflection or opt for the practice of recent years, which included the recitation of a preamble,” wrote Belisle.
“I cannot allow focus to be taken away from the importance of Remembrance Day Ceremony and our commitment to honor the sacrifice of all who have gone before us in service to Canada,” he added.
Belisle further revealed that a committee will be formed to review the new directive, saying, “If changes/amendments are necessary, we’ll make them.”
The decision comes after major backlash over the October 11 directive heavily restricting prayers traditionally said at Remembrance Day ceremonies. The previous order directed Canadian chaplains to “adopt a sensitive and inclusive approach when publicly addressing military members.”
Any “spiritual reflection” offered by military chaplains in a public setting (not including church services or private interactions with members) must be “inclusive in nature, and respectful of the religious and spiritual diversity of Canada,” according to the directive.
Spiritual leaders were also directed to “consider the potential that some items or symbols may cause discomfort or traumatic feelings when choosing the dress they wear during public occasions.”
Minister of National Defense Bill Blair responded to news concerning the directive by emphasizing that “Canadian Forces chaplains are not – and will not be – banned from prayer on Remembrance Day, nor at any other time,” The Post Millennial reported.
However, a Department of National Defense spokesman said that chaplains giving reflections in public, mandatory military ceremonies “should not use the word ‘God’ or other references to a higher power such as ‘Heavenly Father’” in order “to ensure that all feel included and able to participate in reflection no matter their beliefs.”
A member of the Canadian military who spoke to LifeSiteNews under the condition of anonymity said he “completely” believes the decision is a result of backlash over the directive.
However, he warned that the military “walking it back is only temporary and will only apply to Remembrance Day, not other prayer functions. And only this Remembrance Day, perhaps not next Remembrance Day.”
Continuing, the military member said that whatever “happens next, people have faith have seen what we are up against. But we have also seen that when we stand united we can make a difference.”
“The government serves the will of the people, not the other way around,” he concluded.